Canelo Alvarez will be back on May 6, with ESPN.com reporting that he is indeed “finalizing” a deal to face John Ryder, which has been the expected opponent for Canelo’s return for a while now.
The most interesting part of the update on the story is that the fight now appears headed to Mexico, and Salvador Rodriguez is reporting that the Estadio Akron in Guadalajara, Canelo’s hometown, is leading the race for the fight, with “three other venues in Jalisco” also in the running, including Estadio Jalisco.
Estadio Akron seats about 48,000 for soccer and is the home of C.D. Guadalajara of Liga MX. Estadio Jalisco, which is home to Liga MX’s Atlas, is the slightly bigger venue at just shy of 57,000 capacity for soccer, but is also the much older stadium, opening in 1960 compared to Akron opening 50 years later in 2010.
Canelo (58-2-2, 39 KO) hasn’t fought in Mexico since 2011, when he beat Kermit Cintron via fifth round TKO in Mexico City, successfully defending his WBC junior middleweight title for the third time.
Eddie Hearn, who will promote the fight alongside Canelo’s team, had recently suggested SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles for the Canelo vs Ryder fight, but Canelo has longed for a homecoming bout in Mexico for years. This fight — and I know it’s kind of a backhanded compliment — is the right sort of fight for that.
Ryder (32-5, 18 KO) has basically zero name value in the United States, and while you could certainly do bigger gate numbers in Los Angeles or Las Vegas or maybe even at AT&T Stadium in Texas, by miles the best atmosphere for Canelo vs Ryder will be in Mexico, and the fight will still make money, surely.
The 34-year-old Ryder has won four straight since a hugely controversial loss to Callum Smith in Nov. 2019, and honestly, if Ryder had gotten the decision so many felt he deserved that night, he probably would already have fought Canelo.
His wins since, though, have come at low level over Mike Guy and Jozef Jurko in 2020 and 2021, and then a controversial split decision in a lousy fight with Daniel Jacobs in Feb. 2022, followed by a win in November over Zach Parker, where Parker withdrew in round five due to a broken hand.
The win over Parker made Ryder interim WBO titleholder at 168 lbs, where Canelo is undisputed champion, meaning Ryder is his WBO mandatory.
Canelo, who will turn 33 in July, had an up-and-down 2022, losing to Dmitry Bivol in a light heavyweight title challenge in May, and following up with a win back at 168 over Gennadiy Golovkin in September. Alvarez underwent wrist surgery following that fight, but the May 6 return date was always the most likely.